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Our America's exploration of institutional racism and life as a Black American named Big Indie Pitch winner

Our America's exploration of institutional racism and life as a Black American named Big Indie Pitch winner

It feels like an age since we began hosting digital pitches in response to the global situation. However, despite the circumstances that necessitated this move, our digital pitches have only gone from strength to strength. Allowing to host an ever-increasing range of diverse brand new gaming experiences from some of the world's most exciting indie developers.

Normally at this time of year, The Big Indie Pitch would have been returning to Helsinki for Pocket Gamer Connects and what is always one of the biggest and most exciting Big Indie Pitches of the year. Nevertheless, not letting the current situation hold us back, instead, we hosted a Helsinki takeover edition of Pocket Gamer Connects Digital in order to highlight the best and brightest indie developers we can both discover.

Of course, it goes without saying that we also need to thank our amazing event sponsors Chorus Worldwide, alongside our season sponsors G-Star, who not only offered their expertise on the judging panel but also helped make this happen at a time when we could all do with a little boost. 

This time around we were so oversubscribed with entries, we've already only got limited spaces for our next pitch in November. Nevertheless, what this did mean is that we had an incredible amount of talent packed into this pitch, with 15 of the most exciting indie developers from all over the world showcasing their latest works to some of our most established judges and journalists.

Given the amazing talent, we had just waiting for an opportunity, there was not only an abundance of amazing games, but lots of feedback from the judges, and an equal amount of positivity in the voting. In fact, this pitch's voting was some of the most spread out we had seen in a long time. A true testament to the amount of talent. Nevertheless, the judges did, in the end, settle on a top three, and a winner. That winner was the poignant autobiographical VR adventure Our America that explores how a simple stop and search can be deadly for when the colour of your skin happens not to be white.

For those not in the know, The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of PocketGamer.biz. It gives indie developers the chance to pitch their games to industry experts and journalists in a speed-dating-style format. Teams get the opportunity to get valuable feedback on their games, as well as win great prizes such as promotional packages and opportunities to promote their game.

Of course, Our America, as you already know, was the winner, but if you want to learn more about not only Project Haven, but also our runners-up and honourable mention from The Digital Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #3 Helsinki (PC+Console Edition), then simply read on.

1st Place - Our America by Fishean Studio

Our America is a poignant autobiographical VR title that explores institutional police racism and life as a black American in America today. Within the game, players are placed into the shoes of a father and son who randomly get pulled over by the police on their way to school. From here, the audience must make quick decisions, answer questions, and constantly be aware of their very existence in the situation, as any wrong move is the difference between life and death.

Developed by a team of remarkable students, Our America is a game that hopes to allow people to view the world from a different perspective. In turn, hopefully making people all over the world understand the fear, intensity, and helplessness of these situations that Black people must deal with every single day.

In the words of the developers "now, more than ever, the realities of racially motivated police brutality need to be discussed. Our team strives to build empathy, growth, and understanding through putting people in the shoes of a family at the sudden brink of life and death."

2nd Place - This Means Warp by Outlier Games

This Means Warp gives players the opportunity to the universe, whilst taking on bandits and enemies in strategic, real-time battles. This isn't all though, as This Means Warp does all of this within a cooperative roguelike setting, meaning you'll never be alone within the darkest reaches of the never-ending universe.

Alongside utilising teamwork and their combined brainpower, players will also have a range of abilities and weaponry at the disposal that will allow them to upgrade their spacecraft, take down individual enemy subsystems in a targeted manner, and constantly adapt their strategies in order to meet the challenge ahead of them.

3rd Place - Hill Agency by Achimostawinan Games

Set in the year 2762, Hill Agency places you within the shoes of Meeygun Hill, a tough as nails P.I. working and living in the Indigenous Nation that was once North America. At the start of this tale, Meeygun thinks she's seen it all, from missing kids to cheating partners, however, that changes when a woman barges in with a tale of her sister's murder and incompetent policing. This simple case ends up taking Meeygun on a quest to discover the true murderer within this indigenous cyber noir.

The gameplay itself will allow players everything they would expect from a game like this. From interviewing witnesses and suspects to collecting evidence (both real and fake), and even exploring crime scenes. What's unique here though, is it's up to you to work out which of the evidence you discover is real and which is fake. Decisions that will fundamentally alter the course of Meeygun's story, and which truths you discover.

Honourable Mention - You Suck At Parking by Happy Volcano

You Suck At Parking comes to us by way of Happy Volcano, a name that those who pay attention to the pitch will be more than aware of. That's because not only have they won the PC+Console edition of our pitch before, but they also came third in our first-ever year-end Big Indie Awards. On both occasions, they pitched their deeply moving story-focused title The Almost Gone.

However, this time they arrived with a very different title, and one that proves that this studio really can turn anything they touch to gold. So what exactly are You Suck At Parking? Well, in many ways it's exactly what it says, namely a fun and highly crazy mix between a parking simulator and minigolf. Players must navigate the game's physics system in order to race across the track before attempting to park their vehicle at the end of the stage. Of course, though, it's never as simple as it looks, with the game filled with obstacles, challenges, and puzzles, not to mention the physics system which will require players to learn how to park all over again.

Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye on our events page for an event near you.

Upcoming Big Indie Pitch Event Pages & Registration

October 14 - The Big Indie Pitch Digital #4 (Mobile Edition)
November 10 - The Big Indie Pitch (PC+Console Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4
November 11 - The Big Indie Pitch (Mobile Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4

More coming soon so make sure to regularly check our upcoming events page here and over on BigIndiePitch.com.

Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / Special Features Writer

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.

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